AboutContactSponsorshipContent Marketing Consulting
Cronicle Press Logo

Artificial Intelligence, Tech News

Biden Issues AI Executive Order

Tim Busbey

By Tim Busbey

Tim Busbey is a business and technology journalist from Ohio, who brings diverse writing experience to the Cronicle team. He works on our Cronicle tech and business blog and with our Cronicle content marketing clients.

AI news, AI regulation, AI executive order, AI safety, Cronicle Tech News

Biden Issues Urgent AI Regulation Executive Order

In the rapidly evolving landscape of artificial intelligence (AI), the line between innovative utility and potential peril is often blurred. AI's deep integration into various facets of life raises urgent questions about safety, security, and ethics. Addressing these complex challenges, President Joe Biden has signed a comprehensive executive order. This directive follows a growing acknowledgment of AI's transformative impact across all sectors, from national defense to health care, and the necessity for governance that ensures these advances are to the benefit of all Americans.

“Responsible AI use has the potential to help solve urgent challenges while making our world more prosperous, productive, innovative, and secure. At the same time, irresponsible use could exacerbate societal harms such as fraud, discrimination, bias, and disinformation; displace and disempower workers; stifle competition; and pose risks to national security,” Biden wrote in the order. “Harnessing AI for good and realizing its myriad benefits requires mitigating its substantial risks. This endeavor demands a society-wide effort that includes government, the private sector, academia, and civil society.”

This pivotal move seeks to harness AI's promise while curtailing its risks, ensuring the technology advances within a framework that protects citizens and upholds democratic values. As we stand at the cusp of a new digital era, this directive from the White House could set a precedent for responsible AI development and use.

The Core of the Executive Order

The United States has unveiled its most ambitious AI regulatory framework to date with President Biden's executive order. At its core, the order mandates increased transparency from AI companies regarding their model operations. A significant aspect is the establishment of standards, particularly in labeling AI-generated content. This measure is designed to enable individuals to discern the authenticity of digital information, a crucial step in combating the spread of deepfakes and disinformation.

The White House describes the order's primary objective as bolstering "AI safety and security." In an unexpected move invoking the Defense Production Act—a statute typically reserved for national emergencies—developers may need to disclose safety test results for new AI models to the U.S. government, especially if these tests indicate potential national security risks. This requirement reflects the administration's acute awareness of the profound implications AI technologies hold for the nation's security and well-being.

Advancing previous voluntary AI policies, the executive order aims to formalize a set of guidelines to which future AI developments will adhere. While executive orders are not as enduring as congressional legislation and can be rescinded by subsequent administrations, the AI community recognizes this order as a vital step forward. It represents a move towards establishing best practices and fostering a culture of accountability within the AI sector. Nevertheless, it does not impose stringent enforcement mechanisms, a gap that raises questions about the practical impact of the order on the ground.

The order also empowers the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to set benchmarks for rigorous "red team" testing. This process involves intentionally attempting to break AI models to uncover vulnerabilities—an essential practice to ensure the robustness and fairness of AI systems. Previous NIST studies have highlighted the prevalence of racial bias in technologies like facial recognition, underscoring the need for such standardized testing. However, the directive stops short of compelling AI companies to adhere to NIST's methodologies, relying instead on their voluntary participation.

In essence, the executive order lays a foundation for the future of AI governance, stressing the importance of ethical standards and the safety of AI systems. It signals a commitment to proactive oversight in an era where AI's influence is pervasive and expanding, with the hope that such oversight will cultivate an environment where innovation can flourish responsibly and equitably.

Implications for National Security and the Economy

The executive order takes a firm stance on national security, recognizing AI's potential to both bolster and threaten the nation's safety. AI developers must now notify the federal government when training new models that surpass a certain computational threshold, reflecting concerns about AI's influence on national security, economic stability, and public health.

This measure leverages the Defense Production Act, marking a significant step where a law traditionally used during wartime or national crises is applied to the regulation of AI. The mandate for sharing safety test results is enforceable, ensuring that future AI developments are not only groundbreaking but also safe and reliable.

This decisive action by the White House underscores a commitment to safeguarding the American public and its economic interests in the face of rapid technological change.

Enforcement and Future of AI Governance

While the executive order establishes a visionary blueprint for AI's ethical use, it notably lacks precise enforcement details. It calls upon the expertise of the National Institute of Standards and Technology to implement "red team" testing, a method designed to stress-test AI models before deployment. These tests are vital for identifying potential biases, as past NIST evaluations of AI systems have revealed. Yet, the onus remains on AI companies to voluntarily comply with the established standards.

This approach has been met with a mix of acclaim for its forward-thinking nature and criticism for its reliance on the voluntary cooperation of tech companies. The executive order represents an important acknowledgment of AI's transformative impact but also leaves room for the development of more concrete enforcement mechanisms in the future.

International Collaboration and Setting a Global Standard

Embracing a global perspective, the executive order underscores the importance of international cooperation in the realm of AI. The White House signals its intent to engage with global initiatives like the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity (C2PA), aiming to develop technologies that establish the origins of digital content.

This collaboration, though informal, positions the U.S. as a leader in shaping international norms and protocols for AI, potentially influencing how other nations approach AI governance. Such alliances can accelerate the creation of universally accepted standards, paving the way for a future where AI is developed and used with integrity and transparency across borders.

The Path Forward

President Biden's executive order on AI marks a critical juncture in the intersection of technology, governance, and society. It lays out a proactive framework for AI's development, emphasizing transparency, safety, and ethical standards. While enforcement remains a topic for further clarification, the order's focus on collaboration and setting global benchmarks heralds a new chapter in the narrative of AI. It's a chapter that promises not just technological advancement but a commitment to upholding the values that define a democratic and equitable society in the age of artificial intelligence.

For further reading on the subject, here are some links with commentary from tech leaders, government officials and other interested parties:


tech news, AI, executive order, artificial intelligence, tech regulation

© 2018-2024 Cronicle Press LLC. All Rights Reserved. All text and photos not attributed copyright Cronicle Press. This content may not be copied or distributed except in excerpt with permission.